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Don't blame amateur keepers for declining bees

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Brosville 

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/05/beekeepers-endangered-bees

"The reason the buzz of bees was quieter last summer is because the government's bee inspectors can't keep tabs on us hobby beekeepers. That, at least, was the conclusion of a report yesterday from the National Audit Office.

One in three hives were wiped out by a blood-sucking parasite that feeds on the bees and their larvae and spreads nasty viruses. Unless they are controlled, infested colonies can die out - and we're being accused of letting this varroa mite run riot.

But hang on a minute. All the beekeepers I've met since taking up this hobby three years ago care deeply about their bees. Why would they fail to take precautionary measures against the bees' assailant? Lack of knowledge perhaps?

Well, anyone who has read a beekeeping manual, or gone on a course - and let's face it, donning your beekeeping suit and confronting a 50,000-strong colony without some preparation would be pretty daft - will be well aware of the pesky mite, which no hive in the UK is free from. You can spot the tiny brown dot on the bees, or more easily on the white larvae. Feeding your bees a natural jelly-like substance made from thymol in the autumn is the best protection.

Tracking down the estimated 20,000 beekeepers at large wouldn't be difficult; those collecting a swarm of bees from an association or a commercial apiary could be required to register them. But this won't solve the problem of our bees dying at an alarming rate. For one thing, there simply aren't enough bee inspectors to go round because of government cuts to its National Bee Unit.

The truth is that the jury's still out on what is killing our bees. What about the role of pesticides? The European parliament and the Co-op supermarket thinks there is enough of a case against bee-toxic chemicals to ban some of them. What we need is more funding for research in this area - rather than attacking the very people who are trying to help save our bees"
 

admin 

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Who should get the funding though ?
It seems to me that most departments that can carry out such research already have gags in place due to funding from "other sources".

WE NEED INDEPENDENT RESEARCH ! not just more money thrown at the problem.
 

jon 

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The truth is that the jury's still out on what is killing our bees.
That is very true and those who think it has a one word answer - neonicotinoids - are not looking at the complete picture.

brosville.
I agree with your sentiments. The hobby beekeeper cares deeply about his/her bees and should not be scapegoated for general bee health problems.
 
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Polyanwood 

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Are we sure that bees are really declining? Most people I know who lost bees there was a reason for it; starvation, untreated varroa or nosema.
 

jimbeekeeper 

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That is very true and those who think it has a one word answer - neonicotinoids - are not looking at the complete picture.

brosville.
I agree with your sentiments. The hobby beekeeper cares deeply about his/her bees and should not be scapegoated for general bee health problems.
Are we sure that bees are really declining? Most people I know who lost bees there was a reason for it; starvation, untreated varroa or nosema.
Both these statments sum up view of the "problem"

My thoughts on any money, is it should be given direct to beekeepers, since they (we) are about the only ones doing any real progress to find the true answer.
 

Poly Hive 

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well lets have a think about the figures first.

10mill on the table in various guises and some 50k beekeepers. So if HMG kindly gave me my rough share it would be £200. Next?

Let's be realistic here. First thing is that I hear, and this will be no surprise, that a certain pretentious organisation has pretty much been courteously listened to and then promptly forgotten and sidelined. That is (I hear) fact.

So if the main amateur voice is being ignored because of the UIOA attitude then who is the gov listening to? I hear, BIBBA and the Bee Farmers.

As to how the money should be spent well I think we could do well to see what and how the Germans spend their cash on and further how much per beekeeper they DO spend.

PH
 

Brosville 

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I didn't write the article, I merely quoted it - the last thing on earth you'd find me on is any national register, especially if it is, as I suspect, a thinly-disguised way of lining us all up so that the latest excesses of the likes of Bayer can be visited upon our charges "as a precautionary measure", doubtless bolstered by their apologists in the British Beekiller's Association, and the "Beefarmers" brigade
(who would appear to be in many ways, one and the same........)
I do however wholeheartedly agree with the main thrust of the article "don't blame the amateurs".........
It'll only be a matter of time before the latest spate of thefts in the bee world will be blamed on the pesky amateurs too........
 

Hivemaker. 

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Quite agree Bros,and yes i would say they are one and the same,they even have the same webmaster.how convenient.
 

Poly Hive 

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Incestuous really, but to be honest it don't matter as the BB** is sidelined.

PH
 

Chris B 

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The guardian article was written early March, before everyone realised losses were low and the bee population has been exploding ever since. There are swarms galore which speaks volumes about the general health of the bees. I'm sure we all have our own theories about high losses in previous winters but it's time to stop talking about the bee population crashing. That's why BBKA are being ignored - they've cried wolf too long. And that's a real shame because beekeeping deserves some government investment, amateur and professional. And "research" is only part of the picture. Beekeepers DO need access to top quality information, training and expertise. It's a sad fact that many new beekeepers delay taking up bees until retirement, by which time they can expect about 10 years average before they give up due to poor health. The average beekeeper probably has only 5 years experience and doesn't use the internet. There are plenty of poor beekeepers out there for one reason or another. I could quote you many many horror stories (and not just amateurs by the way). Beekeeper registration is not the answer either, although if it came as part of an attractive package I wouldn't complain. We need carrots not sticks for all those donkey beekeepers out there.
 

Nellie 

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Our association laid on a health day over the weekend attended/run by the regional and all the seasonal inspectors for our area. While I was pretty impressed with the contents of it I was amazed at the lack of knowledge from some, supposedly experienced, Beekeepers when it came to general bee health.

Beekeeper registration is not the answer either, although if it came as part of an attractive package I wouldn't complain. We need carrots not sticks for all those donkey beekeepers out there.
I'm a lot happier having gone along on Saturday. Rather than trying to rely on a couple of low res photos in Ted Hooper's book I got a chance to make up and examine Nosema samples, see frames of wax moth, covered in dystentry, mouse damage (sadly familiar with that already), what starved bees look like and the killer: Frames of EFB and AFB, the opportunity to try out the match stick test, have a fiddle with the testing kits and try not to lose my lunch over the smell from the foul brood frames.

I'm very supportive of events like these both as a means to demystify the beeunit/beebase/inspectors and educate people who in some cases must still be able to remember sulphur pits.

It wasn't perfect by anymeans but I'm all for nasty, faceless, government departments going out and engaging with local associations and providing a service that has value.
 

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